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Commentary on Psalms - Volume 1
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Psalm 9:6-8

6. O thou enemy, desolations are come to an end for ever; and thou hast destroyed [or demolished 169169     “Demolished. The Hebrew word expresses the tearing up of the foundations of the buildings.” —Horsley. ] cities; their memory has perished with them. 7. And Jehovah sitteth for ever, he hath prepared his throne for judgment. 8. And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall judge the nations in uprightness.

 

6. O thou enemy, desolations are come to an end for ever. This sixth verse is explained in different ways. Some read it interrogatively, viewing the letter ה, as a mark of interrogation, as if David, addressing his discourse to his enemies, asked whether they had completed their work of devastation, even as they had resolved to destroy every thing; for the verb תמם, tamam, signifies sometimes to complete, and sometimes to put an end to any thing. And if we here take it in this sense, David, in the language of sarcasm or irony, rebukes the foolish confidence of his enemies. Others, reading the verse without any interrogation, make the irony still more evident, and think that David describes, in these three verses, a twofold state of matters; that, in the first place, (verse 6,) he introduces his enemies persecuting him with savage violence, and persevering with determined obstinacy in their cruelty, so that it seemed to be their fixed purpose never to desist until the kingdom of David should be utterly destroyed; and that, in the second place, (verses 7, 8) he represents God as seated on his judgment-seat, directly over against them, to repress their outrageous attempts. If this sense is admitted, the copulative, in the beginning of the seventh verse, which we have translated and, must be rendered by the adversative particle but, in this way: Thou, O enemy, didst seek after nothing except slaughter and the destruction of cities; but, at length, God has shown that he sits in heaven on his throne as judge, to put into proper order the things which are in confusion on the earth. According to others, David gives thanks to God, because, when the ungodly were fully determined to spread universal ruin around them, he put an end to their devastations. Others understand the words in a more restricted sense, as meaning that the desolations of the ungodly were completed, because God, in his just judgment, had made to fall upon their own heads the calamities and ruin which they had devised against David. According to others, David, in the 6th verse, complains that God had, for a long time, silently suffered the miserable devastation of his people, so that the ungodly, being left unchecked, wasted and destroyed all things according to their pleasure; and in the seventh verse, they think he subjoins for his consolation that God, notwithstanding, presides over human affairs. I have no objection to the view, that there is first described ironically how dreadful the power of the enemy was, when they put forth their highest efforts; and next, that there is set in opposition to it the judgment of God, which suddenly brought their proceedings to an abrupt termination, contrary to their expectation. They anticipated no such issue; for we know that the ungodly, although they may not presume openly to deprive God of his authority and dominion, yet run headlong to every excess of wickedness, not less boldly than if he were bound with fetters. 170170     “Que s’il avait les pieds et mains liees.” — Fr. “Than if he were bound hand and foot.” We have taken notice of an almost similar manner of speaking in a preceding psalm, (Psalm 7:13)

This contrast between the power of the enemies of God and his people, and the work of God in breaking up their proceedings, very well illustrates the wonderful character of the succor which he granted to his people. The ungodly had set to themselves no limit in the work of doing mischief, save in the utter destruction of all things, and at the commencement complete destruction seemed to be at hand; but when things were in this state of confusion, God seasonably made his appearance for the help of his people. 171171     “Dieu s’est montre bien a propos pour secourir les gens. — Fr. As often, therefore, as nothing but destruction presents itself to our view, to whatever side we may turn, 172172     “De quelque coste que nous-nous seachions tourner.” — Fr. let us remember to lift up our eyes to the heavenly throne, whence God beholds all that is done here below. In the world our affairs may have been brought to such an extremity, that there is no longer hope in regard to them; but the shield with which we ought to repel all the temptations by which we are assailed is this, that God, nevertheless, sits Judge in heaven. Yea, when he seems to take no notice of us, and does not immediately remedy the evils which we suffer, it becomes us to realize by faith his secret providence. The Psalmist says, in the first place, God sitteth for ever, by which he means, that however high the violence of men may be carried, and although their fury may burst forth without measure, they can never drag God from his seat. He farther means by this expression, that it is impossible for God to abdicate the office and authority of judge; a truth which he expresses more clearly in the second clause of the verse, He hath prepared his throne for judgment, in which he declares that God reigns not only for the purpose of making his majesty and glory surpassingly great, but also for the purpose of governing the world in righteousness.

8. And he shall judge the world in righteousness. As David has just now testified, that the power of God is not inactive, so that he dwells in heaven only indulging himself in pleasures; but that it is a constantly operating power which he exercises in preserving his authority, and governing the world in righteousness and equity; so in this verse he adds the use of this doctrine, which is this, that the power of God is not shut up in heaven, but manifests itself in succouring men. The true doctrine on this subject, is not, like Epicurus, to imagine that God is a being wholly devoted to ease and pleasures, and who, satisfied with himself alone, has no care whatever about mankind, but to place him on the throne of power and equity, so that we may be fully persuaded, that although he does not immediately succor those who are unrighteously oppressed, yet there is not a moment in which he ceases to take a deep interest in them. And when he seems for a time to take no notice of things, the conclusion to which we should come most assuredly is, not that he deserts his office, but that he wishes hereby to exercise the patience of his people, and that, therefore, we should wait the issue in patience, and with tranquillity of mind. The demonstrative pronoun He, in my opinion, is of great weight. The import of it is, as if David had said, No one can deprive God of his office as Judge of the world, nor prevent him from extending his judgments to all nations. Whence it follows, that he will much more be the judge of his own people. David declares these judgments to be righteous, in order to induce us, when we are unrighteously and cruelly molested, to ask assistance from God, in the confident expectation of obtaining it; for since he judges the nations in righteousness, he will not suffer injustice and oppression always to reign with impunity in the world, nor deny his aid to the innocent.


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